A new poll reveals how parents think about money. It involves Star Wars.

Parents today are more optimistic about their children’s financial future than they have been in years. They also believe their own finances will improve in 2018.

But if anything drags them down, it might be their parents.

In a new poll from New York Life, 67 percent of U.S. parents expect their children to prosper more than they have. Back in 2011, only 54 percent predicted that.

Finances and The Force

Pollsters didn’t directly ask where this surge in confidence comes from, but one weird question they did ask was revealing: Which Star Wars movie character best reflects how you handle your family’s finances?

Topping the list was Yoda at 23 percent, which was defined like this…

Patient, will use past experience to guide future decisions (serving them very well), while passing on wisdom and knowledge to future generations is also an important piece of overall goal. 

In second place, at 19 percent, was Luke Skywalker…

Family oriented, will build financial goals around needs of family, relying on the expertise of others (though at times reluctantly) to find the way to navigate through the ups and downs.

Only 9 percent were CP30, the most financially irresponsible Star Wars character (at least, according to New York Life)…

Fretful, will often wind up in a financial bind, sometimes needing help from others but other times surprising even themselves in working out a solution.

Other characters were Hans Solo at 9 percent (“will experience some financial setbacks but perseveres”), Chewbacca at 14 percent (“will consult partner when making financial decisions”), and Princess Leia at 13 percent (“will seek balance between enjoying achieved successes and continuing to work hard for continued growth/success toward financial goals.”)

So what do these references to a galaxy long, long ago mean to our planet right now?

Knowledge is power, power is money

Based on the amusing results, New York Life’s VP Brian Madgett concluded, “We believe the choice of Yoda means more parents are understanding the connection between a bright future for children and financial literacy.”

That might sound blindingly obvious, but it’s not so long ago that “financial literacy” was considered a minor pursuit. Teaching schoolchildren how to play kickball was deemed more important than teaching them about compound interest.

Fox News actually asked in 2014,  Can Schools Really Teach Personal Finance? A year later, Slate magazine declared financial literacy useless.

Yet when New York Life asked parents what “practices are needed” for children to grow up financially successful, more than half alluded to some form of financial education.

The top answer, at 54 percent, was “Teaching financial responsibility by giving an allowance, a piggybank, a savings account, and advice regarding smart spending.”

The least popular answer, at 19 percent, was, “Leaving a financial legacy for your child.” In other words, it’s better to teach now than inherit later.

“We applaud parents who are empowering their children with a financial education,” Madgett says. But he’s also worried about something.

An expensive sandwich

The poll revealed nearly half of all parents expect to take care of their parents, and starting soon. Specifically, 46 percent “expect they will have to increase their responsibility for the care of their own parents in 2018.”

Given rising healthcare costs, this expense will hit parents at just the wrong time, Madgett says.

“This survey validates what our agents are seeing in homes across the country – more parents find themselves ‘sandwiched,’ responsible for their children and facing a growing responsibility for their parents,” he says.

If anything will “derail some of their good 2018 plans,” Madgett says it’ll likely be “preparing for the implications of the sandwich effect.”

Time will tell. And not much time, at that.

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Meet the Author

Michael Koretzky

Michael Koretzky


Koretzky is a PFE-certified debt management professional and the editor of Debt.com.

Budgeting & Saving, Family

financial literacy, parents, save money

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Article last modified on July 6, 2018 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Parents Think Their Child’s Future Is Bright, But a Dark Cloud Hangs Over Their Own - AMP.